One of the great guitarists who played in Carlo Mombelli’s Abstractions in the late eighties was Jo h n n yFo u r i e. He was born Jan Carel Fourie on 18 May 1937 in the Cape, but grew up in Benoni. His mother bought him a guitar and he never looked back. Johnny played in the USA and UK but at home he’ll always be remembered for his Johnny Fourie Band. The band was formed in 1979 and its other members included his son Sean Fourie (keyboards), Raymond Boschoff (drums) and Chris Becker (bass). It was after 1985 that he joined Carlo’s band. In the new democratic South Africa he became a teacher at the Pretoria Technikon in the Jazz Department. He also formed the Short Attention Span Ensemble whose members were Sean, Trevor Don Jeany, Barry van Zyl, Dave O’Higgans and Johnny himself. In 1997 they released Fingerprints Of The Gods. Actually, Johnny performed with the who’s who of South African jazz.He was from the generation that boasted musicians like The Manhattan Brothers and Spokes Mashiane. Johnny passed away in mid-August, 2007 after releasing the CD Once Upon A Time.
JOHNNY FOURIE - ONCE UPON A TIME (MZA028)
"Johnny Fourie is one of the greatest guitar players of our epoque"
John Mc Laughlin
ONCE UPON A TIME -Recorded in 2003 as chronic emphysema took its toll on Johnnys lungs and stamina, one detects an element of peace and dignified acceptance that this music may be a swansong of sorts. The pieces are bathed in a gorgeous dappled light. There is an ego-free, unhurried respect for the composition in each change and modulation. Some notes are attacked and others caressed over waves of rich, layered harmony, which often suggest or conjure up mirages of chords that seem audible, yet are not actually played. And always, there is the immaculate note selection breathing fresh vitality into the venerable tunes.
Absorb the mood of track 12, Love Letters. The genius of Johnnys interpretation (inspired by Clause Ogerman) is in taking what might well be considered a sweet, possibly trite ballad by the master pianist/ vocalist Nat King Cole, and producing a compelling, emotional tone poem. Yet nothing is lost of the Hayman- Young melody. Essence and embellishment are united.
Hearing Unforgettable (track 2) for the first time, one becomes acutely aware of the unhurried tempo and the apparent presence of vibraphone on the track. Like a vast, slow moving river, the melody reveals itself whilst crystal-pure solo passages sketch just how deep the river is - and how teeming with abundant life. There are no scales and no clichés on this record my friend.
Johnny Fourie - extracts from the CD booklet